Alone and Confused, Philae Breaks our Hearts

The Philae that could! The lander photographed during its descent by Rosetta. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for Rosetta Team/

The Philae that could! The lander photographed during its descent by Rosetta. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for Rosetta Team

I was thirteen years old when Columbia disintegrated. Space exploration was not even a particular interest of mine at the time, but I remember exactly where I was when the news came. My dad and I were sitting in the living room of my childhood home, listening to NPR. I don’t really recall how I felt when they broke into our program with the news, but I remember well the two emotions that seemed to permeate the coverage that soon become constant: confusion and sadness. As I watched the almost surreal saga of ESA’s Philae this week, I found my mind wandering back to that day eleven years ago. That confusion rang out was hardly surprising; after all, things weren’t going right and we didn’t know why. But it was the sadness, I think, that drew my mind into the past. Many of the countless people watching Philae’s distress unfold before us weren’t merely disappointed that a decades-in-the-making experiment wasn’t going as planned. The word heartbroken kept springing to mind.

Let me be unequivocal: the loss of a machine, no matter how valuable or —> Read More Here

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